Monday, October 25, 2010

Outdoor Nature Hour...Pine Trees

We began the study on pine trees by comparing some small pine trees growing along the fence line to a larger tree growing in the pasture.  The boys noticed right away the upward reaching limbs on the small trees.  As the trees get really big they don't look quite so symmetrical.

We walked down into the edge of the woods looking for pine cones.  We found a closed pine cone, open pine cone and one that had been torn apart by a squirrel.  The boys enjoyed looking at the cones and I asked them to take a guess as to why pine trees have cones.  Neither one of them knew the right answer, so it was fun explaining to them that pinecones have the seeds of the pine tree growing inside.  We pulled the pinecone apart and found the seeds.  We taped a seed into our nature notebook and drew a picture of a pine tree. 

Here are the boys examining the pine needles to see how many grow in a cluster.  I asked them why they might be called pine needles?

Boo finding the opened pine cone
Here are the boys measuring the diameter of this small pine
nature notebook entry
I also decided to incorporate sketching into this outdoor nature hour.  I cut a small branch from the large pine tree in the pasture.  Bo sketched the branch, while Boo decided to sketch the pine cone he had found.  Miss LouLou colored the picture of the pine tree mommy drew in our nature notebook.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Trials and Triumphs of Nature Study With Young Children

Boots drying on the back stoop...reminding me of our adventure today. 
I had big plans...big nature study plans.
Our school work had been finished for the week...bread had been baked...
weather perfect...creek low...time for some wading and a picnic.
So, I ready the clipboards, camera, field guide, bug bucket and net.
We head out the door for a 20 minute drive to our property on the creek.
Well, getting out the door wasn't quite that easy.  
Little Bitty crying in her crib...deciding not to take a morning nap.
We're going anyway.
Boys arguing over rubber boots...tears...mommy intervenes...showing mounting frustration
I'm determined to go...
Littles guessing where we could be going all the way there...
Cheers when they finally figure it out...
We gather our loads from the van and set out on the short hike to the creek.
Trees ablaze with color...fallen leaves crunching underfoot.
I love being in Nature...surrounded by His glory.
Arriving at the creek we have to climb down a steep embankment and cross a little water...
Pregnant mommy crawling down...Little Bitty crying as I set her across and go back to help the others.
We make it across and find a place for our blanket...boys set off exploring...girls cling to mommy.
LouLou finally ventures away to find brothers...
Little Bitty wants to eat the picnic food.
I walk down to the edge to see what treasures the boys have found.
LouLou and Boo walking along the waters edge get into mud almost up to their knees.
"You have to crawl out!", I say..."I'm not coming in to get you then I'll be stuck!"
Muddy littles crawling out of mud...little girl...tears streaming..her first time stuck in the mud.
In my mind the whole time I am thinking...
there will be muddy feet
there will be wet clothes
there will be frustrating moments...
because they are little and I am learning to patiently deal with the frustrating moments
Our picnic was delightful
We watched a Kingfisher swooping around the water
Little Bitty filling her bucket with shells
LouLou reading the field guide
The hike back to the van was anything but pleasant.
Pregnant mommy...heavy backpack...carrying toddler...LouLou crying the entire walk back
I told myself I will not try this again by myself...But the truth is...I will...
Because the anticipation of the wonders of nature will call...and I will load them up...and try again.
Little Bitty eating she fills her bucket
 looking at a field guide on a rock
looking for crawfish
 Bo's drawing of the Kingfisher
He was so excited about seeing this bird he had read about

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preschool Nature Activity

I made colored egg cartons for my boys about 4 years ago.  I ran across the one that we had left and decided it would be a great nature study activity for LouLou our three year old.  She usually tags along during regular nature study, but this time I let the activity be just for her.  It was great entertainment for about 15 minutes outside and 10 minutes inside when we drew what she had found.

I found this activity in an old Family Fun magazine several years ago.  You will need one egg carton, twelve different colors of craft paint, and a paint brush.  Paint a different shade of paint inside the twelve different holes for the eggs.  After the paint is dry, its nature walk time.

We took a walk in our yard and LouLou found items to match each color painted inside her egg carton.  This activity was so much fun that her brothers went along and helped a lot.  They remembered how much fun they had had with their egg carton several years ago.

Here's Lou Lou outside enjoying the "her school time".  (Blogger is rotating a few of my pictures and I don't know why)

After we came inside, Mommy and LouLou drew inside our nature notebook.  We labeled what we had found and the beautiful colors of the items.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Anniversary

Thirteen years ago today....

The proposal...May 1997

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Outdoor Hour Challenge #31...Into the Trees

This challenge begins a new series on trees.  I am excited about the tree challenges.  The days are pleasent and the leaves are beginning to change color all around us.  We may try to do a couple of these challenges per week so all the leaves don't fall to the ground before we are finished.

We began this challenge by taking a walk through our yard and down our road.  I asked the boys to point out trees that they could identify.

They knew...

We took the field guide and looked up a couple of the oak trees to see if we could identify the exact type.
We planted a pin oak in the yard for Bo when he was a baby, so we knew this one.  We think there is a water oak growing in the edge of the woods.  There is an oak growing down the road, but I wasn't sure what kind it was.

I helped the boys identify...
sweet gum
poplar (tulip tree)
black walnut...we think

As we looked at the pecan trees growing in the yard, we talked about the different parts of the tree...trunk, crown, roots, branches.
When we came in we drew a picture in our nature notebooks of a tree and labled the parts.  The boys also made a list of the trees we identified on our walk.

We also wrote a poem about trees...

Trees are good for climbing
  and resting in the shade
Trees are homes for animals
and they give us wood to build
Trees have pretty leaves
and they give us food...
acorns, pecans and apples too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ordinary Moments...Extraordinary Gifts...

Yesterday, I was struck with the ordinary day we were having and I felt extraordinarily blessed as I looked around at the littles and the messes they make.  Why did the ordinary strike me so?  I'm not sure unless its because most all of our days are ordinary days just spent with each other and that's what makes them so special.  If I don't embrace the everyday...I will be always waiting for the memorable times...and I will forget that I have the chance everyday to make memories that we all can cherish in our hearts.

our sweet excited about our thrift store find...a guryl (girl) for me

littles waking up from naps...eating cookies...and growing milk mustaches..for snack

his favorite boots...left out on the porch...makes a pretty picture next to the yellow mums


little hands...feeding one of God's creatures...giggles...and my turn now

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Learning to Draw...Bo's Reward

Last year when we began Drawing with Children as part of Bo's Year 0.5, I promised him if he would work hard, then he could enter some artwork in the fair this year.  So for the past year we have been doing some drawing instruction, experimenting with different mediums and participating in Sketch Tuesday.

He has always enjoyed art instruction and only became frustrated a hand full of times.  I really noticed a big jump in his ability when I placed a real object in front of him to sketch.

So after a year of hard work he entered four pictures in the fair...
a watercolor picture of apples
an oil pastel of a seashell
a shiitake mushroom log pencil drawing
and a drawing of a fisherman

The drama around entering these in the fair was almost more than I could handle.  But since it was my own fault I kept on until they were safely entered.  The time to turn these in occurred the during the days surrounding the death of my grandfather.  I had looked on the fair website at this time to find out a date to be there.  Well, I looked at the wrong exhibitor information and realized that we had missed the drop off  by a day.  I told Bo mommy had made a mistake and explained what had happened.  I told him he would just have to wait until next year.  I asked for his forgiveness.  He forgave me as he was running away to his bed to hide under the covers and cry.  Needless to say, I felt A-W-F-U-L.  I immediately called the fair office and explained what had happened and asked if there was any way I could still bring the pictures in.  After playing phone tag, I was told that if I had them there that afternoon I could still bring them.  Luckily art was the only category that had not been judged.

So, we raced away at naptime ( I never miss naptime) to Hobby Lobby to get the picture mounted.  Mounting was going to cost thirty dollars, so I opted for foam boards and spray on adhesive.  We arrive at the park to let the kids play while I attempt to mount the pictures.  The spray adhesive ended up being broken and would not spray.  After loading the kids back into the van, and a bathroom break at the park restrooms, I stop by the fair and explain the spray adhesive problem.  The very eagerly help me mount the pictures with double sided tape.  I felt such a relief handing over those pictures.  "I hope he wins," she says as I was leaving.  "At this point I'm just thankful they will be hanging on that wall," I reply.  And I was thankful...

And when we arrived at the fair and he saw his first blue ribbon, all the trouble was worth it...

 He won a blue ribbon with his oil pastel drawing of a seashell(on bottom of picture)...

The mushroom log picture on bottom won a red ribbon.
He won third place with his watercolor green apples.

He's already talking about what he can draw for next year;-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Outdoor Nature Hour Challenge 30...Weeds and Seeds

We all really enjoyed this challenge.  There are lots of flowers and weeds going to seed in our yard right now, so this was perfect timing for us.  The boys and I walked around and gathered a variety of plants that had gone to seed.

The boys hands were full as we made our way back into the house to investigate our findings.  We placed a white piece of paper on the table and dissected the flowers over the paper so we could easily see the seeds.

The boys really enjoyed looking for the seeds.  We had to look a few of the flowers up on the internet to make sure they could identify the seeds.
We found seeds for...
a sunflower


purple careful these dried flowers have spikes that will poke
morning glory

They taped the seeds into their nature notebooks and wrote the names of the seeds beside the tape.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Girl...

This sweet little girl
all smiles...
those precious moments eyes...
the sun streaming through that hair
she brings a smile to my face...
and she makes me hit my knees...
in prayer...
for wisdom...
How in the world...
Do we
tame that times defiant...spirit
without breaking it?
We don't know...but He knows...
for he knit her together in my womb...
He created her for His own glory...
She will need that determination one day...
as she sets her face like flint to accomplish the work he will give her to do!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Outdoor Nature Hour...Another Caterpillar

After we lost the beautiful green caterpillar that we were trying to overwinter, Boo was dumping some scraps in the edge of the woods.  "Hey", he screams, "a worm with big eyes."  He brings a caterpillar to the house and we begin trying to figure out what kind he is.

 After a few minutes of searching, we figure out he must be a tiger swallowtail caterpillar.  Boo had found him underneath a tulip tree in the edge of the woods and tulip trees are a host to these little guys.  He looks like a cross between an elephant and a caterpillar.  It looked like he had a little trunk.
Here are the boys drawing a picture of the caterpillar and the jar on the table is the home we built for him.
We kept this one in the house for a few days and sure enough, he started forming a chrysalis.  His chrysalis is so camouflaged that it looks like part of the stick he has attached himself to.

 Sorry this is a bit blurry, but you can still tell he looks like s stick.
The boys drew the caterpillar and wrote a brief journal entry about where we found him.
After he formed his chrysalis, we moved him out to the shed, so maybe we can overwinter him there.  He may not overwinter at all, since its turned so warm the last few days.  If we are successful we should see one of these...